A fortune teller made the prediction that eight-year-old Pei would never marry, convincing her silent father that the young Chinese girl would only beA fortune teller made the prediction that eight-year-old Pei would never marry, convincing her silent father that the young Chinese girl would only be a drain on the impoverished family's resources. She was sent to work in a silk factory with her wages returning to her family each month. Motherly Auntie Yee ran a home for the young girls working in the silk factory, and a sisterhood developed among the lonely girls. In the early 20th Century marriage often included long hours farming, beatings from husbands, and supervision by unfair mother-in-laws in the patriarchal society. So while the hours were long at the silk factory, many women chose to remain unmarried and employed there because they had some independence and money. The Japanese invasion of China caused an upheaval in the lives of Pei and the other silk workers, and forced them to run to safety.
The author has a Chinese mother and a Japanese-American father (from Hawaii), and she was raised culturally Chinese. She wrote a quiet book with Chinese culture, history, and the details of silk thread production woven into the plot. Pei and her friends are endearing characters, and I cared about their outcomes as I read the story. 3 1/2 stars....more
Mary Morstan has been receiving large pearls in the mail from an unknown source since her father's death. She contacts Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson aMary Morstan has been receiving large pearls in the mail from an unknown source since her father's death. She contacts Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson after she receives a letter to meet with an anonymous person to right an injustice done to her. An unusual man, Thaddeus Sholto, tells the trio that Mary is one of the heirs to a treasure. As they go to meet with a Sholto family member, they come upon a murder victim in a locked room.
The plot is complex with elements of the crook's confession going all the way back to the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Like much literature of the 19th Century when Great Britain was a colonial power, the book does come across as racist toward the native people. However, Indian art objects and clothing are depicted as beautiful and exotic.
Holmes is brilliant and an observer of the smallest details as he solves the murder. Watson is warm and caring as he falls in love with Mary Morstan, and acts as Holmes faithful assistant. Holmes has no use for love and says, "Love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true, cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment."
The mystery was entertaining with the wonderful partnership of Holmes and Watson, as well as other interesting characters. The London detective work was great, but the plot got overly convoluted when it worked back to India in the criminal's confession. 3 1/2 stars....more
Gabriel García Márquez is usually associated with his novels containing elements of magical realism, but he was a reporter in his younger days. In "NeGabriel García Márquez is usually associated with his novels containing elements of magical realism, but he was a reporter in his younger days. In "News of a Kidnapping" he returns to nonfiction to tell the story of ten hostages who were kidnapped by the wealthy Medellin drug cartel in Colombia. Pablo Escobar used the hostages to bargain with the Colombian government when he feared he would be extradited to the United States in 1990 for drug crimes. The city of Medellin, where the drug cartel was based, was full of violence with hundreds of policemen and members of the drug cartel killed each month.
In addition to the harrowing accounts of the captives, the book shows how the families, government officials, and an elderly saintly priest worked out a solution with Escobar. It was especially moving to read how a husband acted as one of the chief intermediaries between Escobar and the government, hoping for the release of his kidnapped wife and putting his own life at risk. After the first captive was killed, I was on edge wondering what the fate of the others would be. This well written book shows how Escobar kept the country of Colombia emotionally and politically hostage in his efforts to avoid extradition....more